by Lori Riddle

This week, Fisher Tank Company's Safety Directory, Charles "CJ" Hineman, presented some key information about Hazard Communication standards and compliance requirements at the meeting of the Steel Tank Institute/Steel Plate Fabricator's Association. Today we'll take a look at some of the information CJ presented, and how it affects nearly everyone working in any industrial or manufacturing setting. Whether you're working with flammable chemicals in a welded steel storage tank or working with industrial cleaning equipment, these HazCom standards affect you.

What, Exactly, Is "HazCom"?

It's not a new 3-D semi military video game. HazCom refers to OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200 - Hazard Communcation for General Industry.

OSHA developed HazCom to ensure workplace safety around chemicals by making information about hazardous chemicals available and accessible to all workers. 

OSAHA adopted HazCom in 1984 for general manufacturing, and then expanded it to all industries in 1987. HazCom was last revised in 1994. The current revised standard was implemented in 2012, but requires full compliance by June 2016.

GHS Global HazCom systemHazCom 2012 and GHS

The 2012 revision of the HazCom standard is designed to bring OSHA's hazard communication standard into compliance with the United Nation's “Globally Harmonized
System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals,” or GHS.

According to OSHA Adminstrator Dr. David Michaels, the alignment of the OSHA standard with the GHS standard is all about making this vital safety information accessible to all workers. Dr. Michaels explains that the first incarnation of HazCom gave employees the “Right to Know” what chemicals they were exposed to in their work. HazCom 2012 gives workers the “Right to Understand" the dangers of chemicals in the workplace, along with information and resources for handling accidental exposure.

What's Different About HazCom 2012?

There are four major aspects of OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.1200 that have changed in an effort to bring the standard in line with GHS:

  • Hazard Classification

  • Safety Data Sheets

  • Labels

  • Training

For many of us, the aspects of the new standard that will affect us most are the changes in SDS (Safety Data Sheet) requirements and the Training requirements. For us here at Fisher Tank, this will involve developing new printed SDS materials for our tank fabrication, blasting and coatings facilities and for our tank construction project sites, as well as extensive training on the new classification and labeling systems for all of our personnel. The goal of HazCom 2012 is for every single person who might come into contact with hazardous materials to be able to recognize and undertand potential danger, and to use that understanding to prevent injuries or fatalities. That's worth everyone's time!

When Will HazCom 2012 Affect ME?

OSHA has established a timeline for achieving compliance, including modification of lableing practices, Safety Data Sheets, and employee awareness and training.

  • December 1, 2013 Employers must train employees on how to read GHS formatted labels and safety data sheets.

  • June 1, 2015 Chemical manufactures and distributors must complete hazard reclassification and produce GHS styled labels and safety data sheets. Distributors get an additional 6 months to complete shipments of old inventory.

  • December 1, 2015 Distributors must comply fully with HCS requirements. (Grace period for shipments of old inventory ends)

  • June 1, 2016 Employers must be in full compliance with revised HCS, including complete training of employees on new hazards and/or revisions to workplace hazard communication programs.

The HazCom 2012 standards will affect many of our customers, from the terminal manager who oversees the transfer of product from one storage tank to another to the wastewater treatment plant operator who's handling water treatment chemicals every day. From the Fisher Tank Company crew building a 2 million gallon water storage tank for a community in Pennsylvania to your project managers, engineers, facility operators and janitorial staff, HazCom 2012 is important for everyone's safety.

Now's the time to get acquainted with the key components of HazCom 2012, and to consider how it will affect you and your business. Keep your eye on the Think Tank blog and our Resources page for more information about HazCom 2012!

Further details about HazCom 2012 are available at OSHA.govPlease also take advantage of our free HazCom guide below.

Free ghs hazcom standards guide

tank construction HazCom

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